How To Save Money On A New Animal

24 February 2014


We’re thinking of getting a new dog in the spring.  Our current dog is nearly 10, and we know he won’t be around forever, unfortunately.  I have always wanted a second dog, but we could never decide on breed, whether our second dog should be hypoallergenic, etc.  I was also nervous about the prospect of introducing a new dog to our existing dog, I wasn’t sure how they would get along.  Our first dog is a mix breed who we rescued when he was 8 weeks old, and he is a very dominant animal.  Fortunately, we had the privilege of babysitting a friend’s dog over Christmas, and it went great.  I warned my friend about my dog’s dominance and that I wasn’t sure how they would get along.  But I was pleasantly surprised at how well the dogs got along.  My husband took them into the woods together, and they romped and played together like nobody’s business.  I would like my firstborn doggy to have that companionship all the time.  After reading this article on if we can afford a pet, I decided we could, with a few cost-saving tactics in mind. With that being said, we’re looking at our best options for adopting a second dog, and we’re trying to do so in the most cost-effective way.

Breeder vs. adoption

We have toyed with the idea of looking for a specific blend of characteristics in our next dog, such as family-friendly and hypoallergenic.  We adopted our first dog from a rescue organization that rescues dogs from local native reserves.  A bred dog can be extremely costly, especially if you are looking at one specific breed that might not have a breeder close to your home base.  As an example, we were thinking about our second dog being a schnauzer, but the closest breeder to us is a nearly 2 hour drive away.  We would be spending money on gas to get to and from the breeder, and if there were any future issues with the dog, it would be costly and a hassle to rectify them due to the distance.  A dog from that breeder would cost us approximately $1000.  Conversely, there are some amazing rescue groups in our hometown, such as the one we adopted our first dog from.   Adoption fees vary from $200-$500, depending on the organization we go with.  Most of my friends’ dogs have been adopted too, so we have had lots of good referrals from people.  Another option is to buy an older dog from a breeder.  These dogs generally have been taken care of from the breeder, but they have had their litters, and are ready to move on to a forever home.  We have found those dogs to cost about half the cost of a puppy, and they are already trained.  There is also the ethical issue of paying for a bred dog, when there are literally thousands of local animals who need (and deserve) to be adopted.   Check out for lots of adoptable animals to choose from!

What to feed your dog

To be honest, before we had kids, we spent a lot of money on dog food.  We used to spend upwards of $80-$100 per month on either raw or organic food for our pup.  Once our kids came along, though, our finances became strained, and we had to make decision on what to spend our money on.  We just didn’t have $100 per month to spend on dog food any longer.  We have moved to either President’s choice nutrition first dog food or Costco’s Kirkland brand of dog food.  Although they aren’t as nutritionally sound as raw food, they both score a 4 star rating according to  Since the switch, we spend about $30/month on dog food for our pup.  He is a large, active dog, so he eats around 4 cups of food per day.  Your dog food costs will range based on the size, breed, and activity level of your dog.

Invest in training

The very best item we invested in for our dog was puppy training.  Our trainer is amazing, her company is called Awesome Dogs.   Although we spent money on this service, it has truly been a long-term investment for us.  By properly training your dog you will be saving money on potential longer term issues and problems such as your dog acting out and destroying items in your house.  Also, people will be much more likely to volunteer to look after your dog when you go away if your dog is well-trained.  You are also lessening the chance of your dog causing potential legal issues for you, such as dog bites, if s/he is trained.

Borrow if you can

Remember that you don’t have to purchase all your pet items first-hand, in fact, you don’t even have to pay for them, if you can help it!  Ask around, it’s likely that a friend has a crate you could borrow, and maybe even an old dog bed they no longer use.  We lent our friend our dog’s old crate, and it has worked out well for everyone.  If you can’t get pet items free, look on kijiji.  We recently bought a very large fish tank, which came fully equipped with a stand, filter, light, and everything we could possibly need for our new fish menagerie.

Find a good veterinarian

Finding a good veterinarian is so essential for saving money on your new pet.  If you find a good vet who will partner with you in caring for your beloved pet, it’s likely you will save money on your vet bills.  For example, by establishing a good relationship with our vet, he was able to give us a few options recently for caring for our dog’s cyst on his neck.  We didn’t have thousands to pay for an expensive surgery, so he recommended a topical treatment that worked like a charm, and cost a fraction of what surgery would have cost.  Check out this article on reducing your vet bills for more ways to reduce your vet costs.

Pets are expensive, but they are so worth it.  Your canine or feline friend will be with you (hopefully) for a long period of time, make wise choices to reduce your costs, but make sure you spend money where you need to.  See your vet on a yearly basis, and if you feel comfortable with it, purchase pet insurance for peace of mind.

How do you save costs on your pet costs, Bargainmoosers?

Photo credit: Eva Webster


  • M
    Bad bad advice to cheap on the food.
  • Mia
    Hi! I love all your advice posts! And while I agree with most of the points above, I don't know if I agree with changing the quality of food that I buy for my dog because I have other financial commitments such as children. Just as I believe that our children should get the best quality of food, dogs deserve the same if not more. Children will eventually learn to feed themselves and take care of themselves but dogs will always depend on us for their wellbeing and they shower us with nothing but love and affection so they deserve nothing less. Take care.
    • Avigayil M.
      Mine also showered me with vomit, poop, shredded shoes, scratch marks, bites, and more because I adopted a dog from the SPCA who needed help. I think saying 'nothing but love and affection' is just a little idealistic!
      • Mia
        You have to remember that you are dealing with a living being, not a stuffed animal! It's part of the package. Children are angels everybody says but that doesn't mean that they don't throw up on your clothes, make you miss out on time with your friends, wake you up in the middle of the night constantly etc. That's what they are! Just like that, dogs are living being and they are going to throw up and poop and possibly shred shoes and scratch. While I understand what you mean by saying its idealistic, we have to understand that nobody, dog or human is going to be perfect. And good for you for adopting a dog and even more so for taking in one that really needed a family. :)
  • Heather R.
    Thanks for the comments! What people feed their dog is a personal choice, and as long as people are researching their options and making an educated decision about it, I think that is what is important.
  • sad r.
    I agree with the some of the previous comments when it comes to compromising the quality of the food fed to animals you will end up with an animal that is not striving and likely bigger vet bills in the long run. What you eat (being human or animal) determine your long term health. This is an awful article.
    • joy
      It's actually a great article!! Price does not always equal quality. As Heather said RESEARCH is needed! I'm sure a lot of time was put into that article and to say it is awful based on one point in it is rude.
  • Eva W.
    Heather is not advocating feeding your dog the cheapest food out there. She researched good foods that are less on the budget. Just because a food costs $100 a bag, it doesn't mean it is a low-quality food. Sure, we'd all love to feed our animals a raw and expensive diet, but I'd also love to eat steak and seafood each day. When you want a pet and have a budget, you do your best to provide the best you can with the funds you have. Great article Heather!
  • mel
    pet insurance--saved us a bundle on our pets health care costs
  • Sue
    Food that costs more $$ isn't always better. A lot of foods out there are hyped up and you are paying for the advertising and/or hype and not for better quality. Even many of the specialty foods recommended by vets have grains and fillers as their first ingredients. I'm not familiar with PC pet food, but if you look at the ingredients and nutritional info. for Kirkland pet food, it is very comparable to many pricier foods.
  • CeeCee
    As someone in the veterinary medical field, I have to put my 2c in and say raw, organic or expensive food isn't always the best. In fact, raw food can lead to a lot of disease for both your animal and the people in your family. I would recommend looking for one that has the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) label. Typically it will also say "complete and balanced" and will disclose if this was determined by "formulation" vs by "feeding trials". The ideal would obviously be if it was designed through research/feeding trials, however formulated food can be good too. Basically it means that the food has been researched and tested to provide your fur-family with all of its nutritional needs. Otherwise, it's usually a bunch of good marketing and wording.
  • Heather R.
    Interesting info, CeeCee! Is there a website or somewhere which identifies which brands have teh AAFCO labels? Is there such an organization in Canada?

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